Archbishop José H. Gomez ordained nine new priests today for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.
“Our new priests are called from many different cultures and backgrounds, and they are filled with the joy of the Gospel,” said Archbishop Gomez. “I am honored to call them my friends and my co-workers in this great ministry of salvation… And, as you know, you are called to be holy, but you are not ‘perfect.’ You are as human as the people you serve — and you always will be. Never forget that. It will keep you humble. And humility is the key to being a disciple and the key to being a good priest.”
The men who entered the priesthood today are Fr. Egren Gomez, Fr. Danilo Guinto, Fr. Gilbert Guzman, Fr. Ian-Vincent Hagan, Fr. Spencer Lewerenz, Fr. John O’Brien, Fr. Thomas Roide, Fr. Pedro Saucedo Jr., and Fr. Matt Wheeler. All have completed theological formation St. John’s Seminary at in Camarillo, including recently completing service as transitional deacons and year-long internships at Archdiocesan parishes. They will begin their first parish assignments on July 1.
“It is a great joy and blessing for the Archdiocese to have these nine new priests ordained for priestly ministry in the local Church,” said Father Samuel Ward, associate director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Vocations. “Together they bring a wide breadth of professional work experience and pastoral ministry skills, including a former Catholic School Vice-Principal, a Hollywood script developer, a magazine graphic designer, a lay missionary to high school youth, a computer programmer, a human resources representative, and a USC accounting major graduate.”
Seven priests were ordained last year and nine new priests in 2016. It is anticipated that six new priests will be ordained in spring 2019. Eighteen new Seminarians are expected to enter this fall at St. John's Seminary, Camarillo for theology studies, and Queen of Angels Center for Priestly Formation, Gardena for philosophy studies, for a total of nearly 100 seminarians in both schools.
The ordination Mass is a sacramental ceremony in which a man becomes a priest and is enabled to minister in Christ's name and that of the Church. The essential rite of the Sacrament takes place during the Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Consecration, an ancient tradition in the Church, mentioned in the Bible.
The ceremony included various rituals, rich in meaning and history, including prostration. The men being ordained lay face down before the altar, symbolizing his dependence upon God and the prayers of the Christian community.
Upon conclusion of Mass, the new priests gave their first public blessings on the Cathedral Plaza surrounded by family, friends, members of their parish communities, their pastors and other priest mentors.
The new priests for the Archdiocese are:
Fr. Egren Gomez, 42, from South Los Angeles, he holds a master’s degree in business. He says the hand of God in his life through his calling to the priesthood came about “through a sense of feeling incomplete in my life. The restlessness I felt became the doorway to a greater and richer life.” First Mass he will celebrate: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at 10 a.m. on June 3.
Fr. Danilo Guinto, 57, from Manila, Philippines. “Pope Francis told us that ‘mercy is real; it is the first attribute of God. As a priest, I look forward in making mercy real, palpable and present in the lives of the people that I am called to serve.” First Mass he will celebrate: Holy Family in Glendale at 11 a.m. on June 3.
Fr. Gilbert Guzman, 51, from San Diego, worked for the LAUSD for 20 years teaching Spanish in elementary school and serving as an assistant principal. “The Church can offer a sense of ‘home,’ a place where young people are welcomed in their uniqueness, their energy and their questions.” First parish assignment: Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Santa Clarita.
Fr. William Ian-Vincent Hagan, 51, from Kansas City, “Serving as a priest in Los Angeles is a truly perfect snapshot of the universal Church diverse and multicultural, all gathered into one big metropolis.” First parish assignment St. Monica in Santa Monica.
Fr. Spencer Lewerenz, 44, a former script writer in the entertainment industry, from Kansas, firmly believes that “God’s love is changing my heart” and hopes that through his ministry the Church can give “a listening ear” to share the joys and pains of young people and those far away from the Catholic faith, as well as “eyes to recognize the beauty of Christ living within them.” First parish assignment: Sacred Heart in Covina.
Fr. John O’Brien, 51, a former actor and artist from Los Angeles, “The Church offers every person the way to happiness through a relationship with Jesus Christ via the sacraments. He listens to all of our concerns and wants to be our best friend and remain with us always.” First parish assignment: Church of the Incarnation in Glendale.
Fr. Thomas Roide II, 31, from La Crescenta, He sees his vocation in his home city as an opportunity to “forever encounter the new: new experiences, new struggles, new joys, new people and cultures, and especially new food!” First parish assignment: Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Whittier.
Fr. Pedro Saucedo Jr. , from Baldwin Park, was a missionary with NET ministries and attended Benedictine College in Kansas, believes “There are so many people in our city that are desiring to belong and are searching for a sense of identity. I believe that Christ is the only way to fulfill this desire, to have the opportunity to show people this very thing is exciting.” First parish assignment: St. Helen’s in South Gate.
Fr. Matt Wheeler, 30, from Minnesota, who holds a degree in accounting from USC, said “There is so much work to do, but not enough time! Through our faithfulness to the gospel, I have a sense that God will multiply our time in miraculous ways.” First parish assignment: St. Anthony in San Gabriel.
According to a report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, total number of potential ordinands for the class of 2018 was 430. For additional information about vocations, please visit lavocations.org.
Homily — Ordination to the Priesthood
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
June 2, 2018
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The whole family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is rejoicing with us today.
My brothers — Egren and Danny, Gilbert and Ian, Spencer and John, Thomas, Pedro and Matthew — the path that you have taken on your journey of life has led you to this moment.
We thank God today for your families — for your mothers and fathers, your grandparents and godparents. By their prayers and sacrifices and their good example, they helped the love of God to grow in your hearts. We see today in a beautiful way how the family is the cradle of every vocation.
Brothers, this is a big step you are taking in the footsteps of Jesus. Today in the Gospel, we heard his prayer for you:
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As You sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.
You were born for this moment — when you give yourself to Jesus, when you dedicate your whole life, heart and mind, body and soul, to his mission of salvation.
He is sending you out into the world — to follow him and to serve him; to be holy as he is holy, and to call others to be holy, too.
My brothers and sisters, as we can see, our new priests are called from many different cultures and backgrounds. And they are filled with the joy of the Gospel. I am honored to call them my friends and my co-workers in this great ministry of salvation.
As we pray for our new priests today, I think it is important for us to remember that everyChristian life is a vocation.
This is true for every one of us, not only those who are called to be priests. Your lives also have a great meaning in the eyes of God. He is calling each of you to play your own part in his beautiful plan for the salvation of the world.
And God gives us holy priests to help us on our journey, on our mission in the world.
My brothers, God is anointing you today to be priests for his people. This is not just another profession, as you know. You continue the ancient and divine ministry that Isaiah prophesied —bringing good news and healing; leading people in the ways of freedom and happiness.
In our time and place, our priests must especially be men of hope.
So I pray that you will bring to everyone the simple and beautiful message of the Gospel — that God loves us and gave his life for us, and that he promises us a life that is beyond death, a love that never ends!
This is the “oil of gladness” that our people long to receive.
My brothers, this calling to the priesthood comes from God. And it is not possible to carry out your ministry without the help of God’s grace.
So you need to rely on Jesus, totally. Let him be the Good Shepherd to you and grow in friendship with him, love him and learn from him.
And, as you know, you are called to be holy, but you are not “perfect.” You are as human as the people you serve — and you always will be. Never forget that. It will keep you humble. And humility is the key to being a disciple and the key to being a good priest.
St. Paul offers some great practical advice in that second reading we heard today: Be humble and gentle and patient. In everything you do, show the love and mercy of God to your people.
There is no better advice for a priest than this.
Finally, you are being ordained on the vigil of Corpus Christi, the great feast of our Lord’s Body and Blood.
And I want to say this personally to each of you: stay close always to our Lord in the Eucharist.
Make the Eucharist the heart of your life and your priesthood. Not only in offering the sacrifice of the Mass each day, but in spending time with our Lord in silence, adoring him in the Blessed Sacrament.
Talk to him as a child of God, listen to his voice. Give your hearts to him and let him shape your lives in his image, just as he changes the bread and the wine. Allow him to make you “another Christ.”
My dear brothers and sisters, let us continue to pray for our new priests. Let us thank God today and pray that many more young men will be following in their footsteps.
And let us entrust our new priests and our own lives to Our Blessed Mother Mary, may she help all of us to open our hearts to hear the call of God in our lives.
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